As a matter of fact, they were so casual about the starting time, a guide brought some people in to join our tour at least five minutes after it had started.
I like to think I have strong legs from cycling, but my legs were shaky after the climb down from Moro Rock on Saturday, and they shook again climbing up to the Boyden Cavern entrance. It was steep!
Our guide at the Crystal Cave had been entirely uninspiring, sounding as if she were reading off of index cards. And I overheard her telling someone she had been on the job for only two months! Our guide at Boyden Cavern, however, was clearly very excited about her cave, and eager to point out its features to us.
Both guides explained that the formations in the caves were made from calcium carbonite, which ultimately comes from corals and the shells of crustaceans, bivalves and other hard-shelled sea creatures. How do these shells get all the way up into the Sierra, 320 km (200 mi) from the ocean? Plate tectonics. They come from the Farallon Plate, an ancient marine plate that was subducted under the North American Plate. But our Boyden Cavern tour guide told us that she thought it was incredibly amazing that ancient coral fossils metamorphose into these bumpy, coral-like formations, returning to something like their original form. That is indeed fascinating.
Our guide told us about Mr. Boyden’s discovery of his cavern. He hiked in almost as far as we walked in, and then dropped and broke his kerosene lantern. He had to feel his way out of the cave, which apparently took him 4.5 hours. He claimed the frontier territory for himself, spent the next decade exploring the cave, and was about to open it for tours when he died of exposure on a return trip from the cave back to town. Now, if I broke my lantern and had to spend 4.5 hours feeling my way out of a cave, I don’t think I would ever go into a cave again!
Our tour guide was so excited about her cave, and the scheduling so casual, that the tour took over an hour rather than the promised 45 minutes. But it was such a fun experience, and I had so many questions to ask her, that we really didn’t mind. It was nearly 5:30 by the time we left the cave and began our trek back home (which was much smoother than our trip out), but we harbored no regrets.
That’s the end of our wonderful anniversary adventure. We definitely felt like we hit the highlights of the area, although there is certainly more exploring that could be done, particularly hikes from Cedar Grove. I hope you enjoyed sharing our views of this amazing place.